Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Promise me, Ned."

An illustration of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen (artist unknown)

If you haven't thought about the mystery of Jon Snow's parentage, why not start now? I have thought long and hard about this question and I believe that I finally have an answer. 

I have reason, as do many others, to believe that Jon's mother and father are Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. My theory began to take form when it was first stated that Rhaegar had been in love with Lyanna and carried her away. He even went so far as to show his affection for her publicly, crowning her the "Queen of Love and Beauty", even while his own Wife, Elia of Dorne, was present.

"Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it."

- Barristan Selmy

During and after Robert's rebellion, it was said that Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna. It was also said that Rhaegar spent much of the war with her in the Tower of Joy, a private hideout of his. It makes sense to assume that he was spending what little time he had to be with the love of his life. Rhaegar isn't described as the type to simply kidnap a girl and take her away from her family without her consent. He is said to have been a wise, sad soul who enjoyed music and spent much of his younger years absorbed in books. 

In the book series, Arya is told she is very similar to Lyanna in both personality and appearance. It is also said that Jon and Arya look very much alike, so he must also carry some of her traits. If Lyanna had a similar personality to Arya, would she have let Rhaegar simply take her away? It makes more sense to assume Lyanna was as deeply in love with Rhaegar as he was with her. Perhaps the reason he took Lyanna away was because she was pregnant. Or, perhaps he took her away because she was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, which threatened  to separate the two lovers forever.

Lyanna Stark died surrounded by a pool of blood and blue rose petals (the laurel given to her by Rhaegar crowning her "Queen of Love and Beauty" had consisted of blue roses). The only illness that G.R.R. Martin has revealed Lyanna was suffering from is a fever. I believe that she died because of some complications from giving birth, or perhaps lack of medical care during/after birth.

Lyanna was discovered dying when Eddard Stark and his six companions (Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, Ethan Glover, Mark Ryswell, Howland Reed, and William Dustin) rode to rescue her at the Tower of Joy. Ned and Howland Reed were the only survivors, leaving them the only living witnesses to "Lyanna's promise". The only remnants of this secretive conversation that the reader ever gets to hear is Lyanna begging Ned, saying "Promise me, Ned."

If what I am guessing is correct, then Lyanna was most likely asking Ned to take care of her newborn baby boy. She would have wanted the child's lineage a secret so she asked him to claim the boy as his bastard. Any child of Rhaegar would have been murdered during the rebellion so this was a matter of Jon's life or death. 

In A Storm of Swords, Beric Dondarrion's squire, Edric Dayne, befriends Arya and tells her that he and Jon Snow were milk brothers and nursed by the same woman, Wylla, who had been in the service of the Daynes at Starfall (the seat of House Dayne) for years. Wylla was also mentioned by Ned Stark when he was talking to King Robert in the first book, Game of Thrones. The King asks him about who mothered Jon and Ned responds with the name Wylla. In accord with my theory, Ned must have gotten Wylla to take care of Jon, who had no mother to nurse him after Lyanna's death. Starfall is close to the Tower of Joy and Ned probably dropped Jon off there or perhaps sent someone to deliver the child in his stead. 

A map of Dorne showing the distance between Starfall (left) and the Tower of Joy (right)

After Robert's Rebellion ended, Ned rode back to Starfall and delivered Arthur Dayne's sword "Dawn" to his family, informing them of his death at the Tower of Joy. This must have been the perfect opportunity to pick up Jon and go from there back to Winterfell. 

And so I come back to my conclusion - Jon Snow is likely the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.


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  2. Jon is the son of Brandon Stark and Ashare Dayne... Daenerys on the other hand...